TOKYO Japanese shipments of flat-rolled steel products fell sharply in April after hitting their highest levels in more than a year the previous month.
Total shipments of hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet, and plate dropped 14.2 percent to 3.6 million tonnes, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.
Hot-rolled steel shipments saw the biggest drop, falling 20.8 percent to 1.29 million tonnes. However, shipments increased 17.2 percent year on year amid a strong rebound both from the domestic market and exports.
Similarly, higher production by automakers means that galvanized sheet shipments of 977,000 tonnes increased 5.6 percent from the previous year even though they were down 6 percent from March levels.
Shipments usually retreat in April after mills boost shipments in March ahead of the end of their fiscal year.
However, mills continue to see weakening underlying demand for cold-rolled sheet and plate, with plate shipments of 843,000 tonnes down 11.7 percent month on month and 12.6 percent year on year. Cold-rolled sheet shipments of 488,000 tonnes declined 18.5 percent from March levels and were down 5.4 percent year on year.
Shipments of long products, meanwhile, remain supported by robust demand from the construction sector.
H-beam shipments, although down 20.7 percent from March, were up 8.5 percent year on year to 306,000 tonnes, while light bar shipments of 809,000 tonnes declined just 1.7 percent month on month but rose 8.6 percent from April 2012 levels.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.